A group of Park City residents delivered a broadside against Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts on Thursday evening, bringing a list of grievances to City Hall ranging from the operations of the resort to a Provo firm’s plans for a major development at the base area.
The critics filled much of the Park City Council chambers at the Marsac Building while others were monitoring the meeting online as speakers tore into the Colorado firm’s management of PCMR. Tensions had seemed to build through the ski season as complaints mounted about the amount of terrain that is open, the parking situation, crowded slopes and long lift lines. A widely publicized dispute between Vail Resorts and the union that represents ski patrollers focused even more attention on PCMR before the sides recently reached an agreement.
There had been chatter earlier in the week that some critics of Vail Resorts planned to attend the meeting on Thursday, but the wide-ranging nature of the comments to the elected officials was not expected. Mayor Nann Worel and the City Council were not scheduled to address issues involving Vail Resorts or PCMR, and they provided only limited response. It appears the elected officials in coming weeks will schedule a meeting with representatives of PCMR or Vail Resorts.
Various Park City neighborhoods were represented on Thursday. Some of the speakers were livid with the traffic and lines at the resort while others took the opportunity to bring their concerns about the development proposal to the elected officials even as the Park City Planning Commission continues to review the project.
“I would urge the Council to stand up to Vail,” said Eric Moxham, a Silver Springs resident, asserting compensation at Vail Resorts is not a living wage, telling the elected officials of lifts that are not operating at PCMR and questioning the food and beverage service.
Michael Kaplan, who lives in Old Town, recalled waiting 42 minutes in a line at PCMR to purchase a hot dog that cost $9.
“They seem to care little about our community” and the guest experience at PCMR, Kaplan said.
Jeremy Buzzard, a Thaynes Canyon resident, labeled Vail Resorts “incompetent” as he argued it is not the responsibility of the community to support the firm’s bottom line.
“I think they’re doing it wrong,” he said.
One of the key figures in a group formed in opposition to the development proposal also spoke to the mayor and City Council. Nancy Lazenby, who is aligned with the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition, urged the elected officials to protect the community and argued developers must consider the interests of the city as they pursue projects.
A former Park City mayor, Dana Williams, claimed the situation at PCMR is damaging the brand of Park City. His son, Ryan Williams, said lift lines this ski season are the worst he has ever experienced and the resort has been “super-crowded,” describing what he considers to be a “blatant money grab.”
The mayor and City Council received approximately 80 minutes of comments about PCMR or Vail Resorts. Some of the other speakers covered topics like the extended closure of the Silver Star lift, which, when operating, can help disperse the crowds at the base area, a desire for traffic controls in Thaynes Canyon and a call for Vail Resorts to be held responsible for the traffic impacts.
Representatives for PCMR or Vail Resorts did not address the elected officials, and it was unclear if any were in attendance in person or monitoring the meeting online.
City Councilor Max Doilney provided brief comments after the input, saying he contacted other communities where Vail Resorts operates to learn about issues this ski season. The ones he communicated with are experiencing similar problems, Doilney said.
The mayor and City Council could meet with PCMR or Vail Resorts later in the month. It is not known what could be accomplished at that time since some of the issues brought to the elected officials, such as lift lines, are outside the jurisdiction of the municipal government.
The criticism of Vail Resorts was more evidence of ongoing mistrust in the community that has stretched since the firm entered the Park City market in 2013 with a long-term lease of what was once Canyons Resort. Vail Resorts later acquired PCMR as part of a lawsuit settlement and then combined the two properties into a single resort. There have been worries about issues like traffic increases, crowded slopes and what some see as the corporatization of the community in the years since. The meeting on Thursday, though, was unusual in its intensity and its sweeping condemnation.